Long hours ruining health without lifting productivity

Long hours ruining health without lifting productivity

John Vasey, Communication Workers Union workplace rep (personal capacity)

Studies now show that working long hours doesn’t just damage your health – it doesn’t even get more done. Stanford University has found that productivity declines rapidly after 40 hours a week – collapsing almost entirely after 50 hours.

But longer hours are on the rise.

We are burning ourselves out with our long-hours culture. There’s so much work to do, and it’s inefficient to grind more out of the existing workforce. So how can industry justify keeping people who want proper jobs on the dole?

Speed-ups and longer hours persecute workers for doing the job properly. Say you refuse to stack boxes in front of the fire doors to get done faster. Or you ‘waste’ time using a trolley for heavy loads instead of carrying them. The manager can make your life a living hell.

Sick workers force themselves in instead of taking sensible time to recover. Then they collapse, and sick absence goes through the roof. The pressure can create mental health problems.

But don’t expect extra staff. Big business currently sees ‘investment’ – jobs, to me and you – as too great a risk after the 2008 banking disaster.

Many people seeking full-time work have to settle for part-time. Even working overtime does not win them full-time contracts.

It’s cheaper for most businesses not to guarantee your hours. And so there is the obscenity of plenty of work, but a shortage of jobs to match.

The Socialist Party fights for a maximum 35-hour week with no loss of income. For fighting trade unions to prevent persecution for doing the job properly – and campaign for government investment to create jobs. And for guaranteed hours for every worker who wants them.